Sunday, February 18, 2018
Text Size

Mounts Ride Rally in 2nd Half to Win

As the season winds down and the victories add up, the target the Ephrata girls soccer team carries on its collective back grows ever larger.

“Certainly, they’re the team to beat,” Lampeter- Strasburg coach Emily Lebo said, “and you can’t think that you’re up one, that it means anything.”

Up a goal at halftime Wednesday afternoon, the Pioneers appeared primed to stop the Mountaineers’ 13-match win streak, as well as extend their own seven-game streak — a streak that began in the wake of a 2-1 loss to these same Mounts on Sept. 14. And on this night, the Mounts would again walk away with a 2-1 victory.

“The girls knew it was in their grasp,” Lebo said. “After we scored that first goal we could all taste it.”

Lizzie Deardorff’s 36yard strike from deep on the right side crossed over just inside the right post, putting the Pioneers (8-3 Lancaster-Lebanon League, 9-5 overall) on top in the 29th minute.

It was a lead they took into intermission.

“There was still 40 minutes to play and I think maybe we got ahead of ourselves a little bit there,” Lebo said.

But Maddie Root and Reagan McCarty scored second-half goals for Ephrata (11-0, 14-1), and the Mounts maintained their grip on first place in Section Two of the L-L with a 2-1 win over the second-place Pioneers.

Of the 14 section games the Mounts play, at least 10 are played on a fast, true-bounce turf surface.

The Pioneers’ home field is not any of those things.

Because of that, and the relentless pressure the Pioneers delivered at both ends of the pitch, the Mounts played skittish soccer in the first half.

“I think, in our heads, we were just more worried about the field, it being grass and being bumpy,” McCarty said.

“That was a big issue today with us,” Root said. “You can’t get a good touch on with the bounce.”

Root and Annie Slovak, the top two scorers in Section Two, were non-factors in the first half, hectored by the L-S defense.

Slovak broke free for two semi-dangerous opportunities.

Opportunities, dangerous or otherwise, never came to Root.

“It was like every time we touched the ball we’d get swarmed,” Root said. “You didn’t even have time to react.”

That all changed in the second half.

Five minutes in, on a counterattack after keeper Jocelyn Umana saved Sarah Doutrich’s chipper, Slovak carried deep down the right side, finding Root on a cross.

“Abbie Weist had a beautiful ball to Annie, who did really good job of drawing the defenders that were left,” Root said.

Root’s finish tied the match, energizing both sides.

The Pioneers had four good chances in the next 19 minutes, but couldn’t finish.

With time running down, off a throw-in from the left touchline, Weist sent a head ball ahead to Root.

Root passed back to Weist, who directed a diagonal cross to McCarty in the right slot.

“I saw (the play) coming and I figured, for me to not be offsides, I had to wait a little,” McCarty said. “I was really afraid I was going to miss, I will admit that.”

Her far-post finish finished the Pioneers.

“Our defense played strong and played well,” Lebo said. “Those players ... you have to hang with them all game.

“You give them an inch, they’re talented enough to take that inch and do something with it. It’s going to be a mile for them.”